It has been a crazy political week for the US and other major actors in the Middle East. But diplomacy has a chance as the contours are starting to come into view:
Without much warning, diplomacy is suddenly alive again after a decade of debilitating war in the region. After years of increasing tension with Iran, there is talk of finding a way for it to maintain a face-saving capacity to produce a very limited amount of nuclear fuel while allaying fears in the United States and Israel that it could race for a bomb.
Syria, given little room for maneuver, suddenly faces imminent deadlines to account for and surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles — or risk losing the support of its last ally, Russia.
For Mr. Obama, it is a shift of fortunes that one senior American diplomat described this week as “head spinning.”
Today, France indicated that Iran must be part of Syrian peace discussions, but, of course, with preconditions.
Another issue brought up in Mark Landler’s Diplomatic Memo: will there be a handshake between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani? And, not to be outdone–the Borowitz Report, from the literary magazine’s version of Colbert/Stewart:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republican leaders warned the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that they would frown on his shaking hands with President Obama at the United Nations today, saying that any embrace of Obama would signal that Iran was not serious about abandoning extremism.
“We welcome President Rouhani’s moderate rhetoric,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.). “But those words are rendered hollow if he is willing to shake the hand of a notorious extremist.”
“This is a man who has enslaved his people, saddling them with a health-care law not of their choosing,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). “The President of Iran should think twice before shaking hands with a man like that.”